- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Young woman seated, holding book in drooping hand and resting elbow on book box of Tales of Ise; episode chapter 12 in her dream: lovers hiding in grasses of Musashi Moor from guards of Provincial Governor threatening to set fire to moor with torches. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 88.70 centimetres
Width: 31.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Reproduced and discussed in Museum Rietberg, 'Love, Fight, Feast: The Multi-faceted World of Japanese Narrative Art' (2021), no. 26.
A courtesan has fallen asleep while reading Ise monogatari (The Ise Stories; Clark et al 2013, cat. 88). In the balloon-like emanation above her we see that she is dreaming about episode twelve, where the lovers hide in the grasses from the soldiers of the provincial governor of Musashi after the man has abducted the woman. The courtesan is resting on a book-box with the title Ise monogatari clearly written on it. These boxes were made to contain such voluminous works as the fifty-four-chapter Tale of Genji, but would have been far too big for the slim two-volume Ise Stories. Such Genji-boxes, however, are often pictured with high-ranking courtesans as indicators of their cultural accomplishment. The courtesan here is clearly identifying with the fleeing lovers, imagining her own escape from the licensed quarter to which she is confined. Painted on silk, this work would have been commissioned by a wealthy patron. [JM]
The convention in Ukiyo-e is to show the content of a dream in a cloud-like emanation from the head. Here a young woman has been reading 'Ise monogatari' ('Tales of Ise'), the title clearly legible on the book in her drooping hand and on the book box on which she rests her elbow. The episode which has fuelled her imagination and features in the dream is chapter 12 in which lovers hide in the tall grasses of Musashi Moor from guards of the Provincial Governor, who threaten to set fire to the moor with their torches (see also no. 34). Doubtless she imagines herself the heroine in many-layered brocade robes being held in the protective arms of the handsome courtier. Images such as this provide an interesting complement to the device frequently employed in Ukiyo-e of 'mitate' (reworking classical themes in a contemporary guise) in as much as they suggest that people of the period had no difficulty transporting themselves in imagination back to inhabit the classical past too, a kind of 'mitate' in reverse.
Two further versions of this subject are known, in the Azabu Museum of Arts and Crafts (Azabu 1986, no. 39) and Chiossone Museum (Tokyo, Mainichi Shimbun 1990, no. 212), identical save for minor differences in the patterning of the robes, in the dressing of the hair and in the positioning of the figures in the dream. Though certain artists of the period such as Shunsho never repeated a composition, Eishi frequently did, and in this instance all three versions appear equally authentic.
Brandt, Klaus J. 'Hosoda Eishi 1756-1829'. Stuttgart, K. J. Brandt, 1977, painting no. 444.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, BW no. 18.
この主題の別作品が2点、麻布美術工芸館（寄託品 麻布美術館『麻布美術館収蔵品図録』1986年 39図）とキヨッソーネ美術館（毎日新聞社 『キヨッソーネと近世日本画里帰り展』図録 1990年 212図）にあり、衣装の文様や髪形、夢中の人物の配置などのわずかな相違を除いて、三者はまったく同じである。同世代の浮世絵師には二度と同じ構図を用いない画家が春章を初め数人いるが、栄之はしばしば同構図を繰り返しており、この3点はこのことをよく証明している。
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013 3 Oct - 2014 5 Jan, London, BM, Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art, 1600-1900
2021 9 Sep-5 Dec, Zurich, Museum Rietberg, Love, Fight, Feast: The Multi-faceted World of Japanese Narrative Art
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Ise monogatari 伊勢物語 (Tales of Ise)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1426 (Japanese Painting Number)